Pakistan’s vulnerable batting helps England level series


Pakistan’s vulnerable batting succumbed to a big first innings lead pressure to lose the second Test by an innings and 55 runs as England achieved a 1-1 series leveling on the third day of the second Test at Headingley on Sunday.

England had stretched their lead to 189 by finishing at 363 — the same total Pakistan made at Lord’s — and then the fact that Pakistan had never won a Test after conceding a lead of 144-plus became true as one after the other Pakistan batsman fell and even the nature did not help them as rain never came. Pakistan were 3-84 but lost their last seven wickets for just 50 to be bowled out for 134.

But even a 1-1 series result should be a matter of great pride for this young team. No pundit had gievn this team any chance of returning with any win from England. But after a brilliant and surprised nine-wicket triumph at Lord’s many had believed that this team can go on and match Pakistan’s last series win in England in 1996.

The captain of that team Wasim Akram celebrated his 52nd birthday minutes before the last rites were done in the Test match but unfortunately the Pakistan team could not make their legendary paceman’s day memorable.

The lack of fight and the stigma that Pakistan cannot perform well in consecutive two matches again haunted them. Azhar Ali showed some semblance of fight but fell to an injudicious shot, cleaned up by James Anderson for 11. Haris Sohail looked good but played one shot too many and was caught off an uppish shot for eight. Asad Shafiq has shown timidity in such situations and his half hearted attempt to push a leg side delivery only to get a glove on the way to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. It was Stuart Broad who wisely convinced his captain to take a review and it proved decisive. Asad made only five.

Imam’s resistance also ended with England skipper Joe Root bringing off-spinner Dominic Bess to disturb the left-hander and his pre-determined push ended in a plumb leg-before for 34. It was an innings which promised some fight but ended in an insipid manner.

Captain Sarfraz Ahmed’s form with the bat is disconcerting and here too he was caught half cocked and was leg-before for eight. Usman Salahuddin also showed a lot of promise but fell to another irresponsible shot, rather than showing some grit by prolonging the outcome. He made 33.

Off-spinner Bess who went wicketless in the first Test and did not get a chance to bowl in the first innings here finally made his mark with 3-33. Broad took 3-28 and James Anderson finished with 2-35 nine in the series.

This becomes England’s first win in eight Tests, having lost the five-match Ashes in Australia 4-0 and a two-match series in New Zealand 1-0.

Even in this defeat Pakistan can hold their heads high.